I had the pleasure of moderating the IABC/Toronto Reverse Mentoring panel discussion last month. If the panelists represent the next wave of communications talent, then I am confident that our industry is in good hands. Andrew Rudyk, Aaron Mitchell, Katie Duklas and Riley Bowman were poised, articulate and self-assured in a way that gave me and my fellow elder millennials and Gen Xers in the audience a lot of food for thought. Here are some of my key takeaways from the event:
1. Technology isn’t the enemy, it’s just the medium: Personalized communications and technology are not mutually exclusive. We can’t mourn the beginning of the end of IRL communication because…bots. Brands that are winning are finding ways to embrace the personalized communications approach, using modern technology and digital channels as a conduit.
2. Treat yo’ self…well: Personal branding is strong with the next generation. There’s high self awareness and ambition, and a real sense of pride in their personal value proposition.
3. There’s no kids’ table: Speaking of ambition, it was refreshing to hear the collective excitement from the panel about the need to begin immersion from the beginning of one’s career. They didn’t feel the need to watch passively before growing into a more strategic role. It was more about doing right from the start, and gradually taking over the reins.
4. Influence is shifting: This cohort is much less taken with predicting if influencers are going belly up or not. Rather, they see a bright future for those who embrace new channels (overwhelmingly Tik Tok) while still being true to who they are, and speaking to their audience as a trusted friend.
5. More than just video content: Even though I came away from the event with a list of 20 Tik Tok accounts and hashtags I needed to check out stat, it was a relief to hear that long form content is alive and thriving with this group. Attention spans are not going the way of the dinosaur, we are just experiencing a shift in storytelling methodologies.
For those of us who have been in the industry for a few years, the word “authenticity” makes us roll our eyes HARD. But with a new generation comes a new approach to defining what that concept means…and I am personally very excited to see how this plays out.
Rohini Mukherji is a VP, Integrated Communications at APEX PR.